Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Son Wants to Help Stressed-Out Mother

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has been getting upset at my grandmother a lot recently, and it has been hard on my family. My mother gets stressed out because she regulates my grandmother’s medications and manages her diet, exercise and various health problems. However, she then ends up getting burnt out to the point that there is yelling and crying every few days. I’m not sure how much I can do, but I’d like to support both of them so this happens less. How can I be of help? -- Supportive Son

DEAR SUPPORTIVE SON: You can be a sounding board for your mother. She may need to talk about the stress she is under and let off some steam. Let her know that you are there for her and willing to help in whatever ways you can.

You can also do some research. Look online for local resources that may be able to help with elder care. If your grandmother can go to a care facility for older people during the day, it may provide some peace for your mother. Sometimes these can be affordable and insurance may cover the cost. Your mother can also look into a visiting nurse service, where a professional nurse comes in to tend to a patient’s needs, including administering medication. Look up these things and present options to your mother. Your initiative will please her and may also help her to find ways to ease the challenges she has.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve been traveling a lot recently, and it has been limiting the amount of time I can be with my family. This has been hard on me, and also on my son and my wife. We like spending time together, and I have been gone several days a week on a consistent basis. What can I do to make the most out of my time with my family, and how can I feel like I’m there even when I’m not? -- Traveling Husband

DEAR TRAVELING HUSBAND: First of all, it is wonderful that you have a close-knit family and want to keep it that way. Thanks to technology, it won’t be as hard as you might think. Schedule daily calls with them while you are away. You can use FaceTime or some other program to be able to see and talk to them. If your schedule while traveling is somewhat erratic, it will still work, just be sure to put the call on your calendar. It could be early in the morning, later in the evening or at the dinner hour. The call doesn’t need to be long, but being able to see each other’s faces is priceless.

If you travel internationally, you may want to use the free app, WhatsApp. This will enable you to make free phone calls to each other from virtually anywhere in the world. You can also send voice messages so that your family can receive them at their convenience, and vice versa.

When you are home, be sure to schedule time when you are together. You don’t have to do anything special. Just make time to be in each other’s company and talk.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)